Much-loved donkey dies

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A brief death notice told of the death of a friend of Woodbury, the little settlement tucked near the hills behind Geraldine.

It said: “Seamus the Woodbury Anzac donkey. Died at sundown. Thursday 9 May, 2019, surrounded by his family. Aged 44 years.”

Seamus had retired from his official duties, playing the part for many years of Simpson’s donkey at the Woodbury Anzac service.

Seamus was owned by former Woodbury resident John Parsloe.

Each year, until his retirement several years ago, he was led by a Woodbury child, playing the part of Simpson.

John (Jack) Simpson Kirkpatrick, who served as John Simpson, was a stretcher bearer with the 1st Australian Division at Gallipoli in World War I.

After landing at Anzac Cove, Simpson began using donkeys to provide first aid and carry wounded soldiers to the beach for evacuation.

Simpson and the donkeys continued the work for more than three weeks, often under fire, until he was killed.

He died on May 19, 1915.

Seamus, on Anzac duty in Woodbury, always wore a Red Cross marker on his nose.

He is believed, until his death, to be one of the oldest donkeys in New Zealand.

Photo: Gus McKeown, left, and Daniel Prattley with Seamus at Woodbury in 2015.